A former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole , who is charged with alleged contract inflation may regain his freedom on Monday, June 13th, 2011.
This is based on the decision of the Federal High Court judge, Justice Donatus Okorowo , Friday to deliver ruling on his bail application on Monday.
Bankole will ,however, remain in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) till Monday
.Justice Okorowo ordered that Bankole be remanded at the EFCC's custody after listening to arguments on the bail application by his lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN and the prosecution counsel, Mr. Festus Keyamo who vehemently opposed the bail application.
The judge said he would have delivered his ruling on the application Friday but said he could not do so because of time constraint and the volume of authorities cited by both counsel.
Arguing the bail application, Awomolo urged the court to admit Bankole to bail on self-recognition as the prosecution had not placed sufficient materials to convince the court to refuse the bail application.
He described as hearsay and speculative the prosecutor's claim that Bankole was planning to run to the United Kingdom before he was arrested.
Besides, Awomolo said the fear that an accused person will run away or jump bail is not a reason in law for denying bail because to jump bail has its own criminal consequences.
In addition, it was his submission that the world is a global village where criminals have no hiding place.
He supported his argument with a Court of Appeal decision in James Ibori Vs Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Awomolo added that the court could only act on legally admissible evidence either orally or documentary in deciding applications before it.
He cited sections 76, 86, 87 and 89 of the Evidence Act to the effect that 'all facts except the content of document may be proved by oral evidence.'
Accordingly, he urged the court to expunge some paragraphs in the prosecutor's counter affidavit which he described as the opinion of the deponent.
Responding, the prosecution counsel, Keyamo urged the court to refuse the bail application on the grounds that the applicant did not place sufficient materials to warrant the court to exercise its discretion in his favour.
He told the court that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against the accused and that many of the paragraphs in the bail applications did not meet the requirement of law in considering bail application.
Keyamo particularly drew the attention of the court to paragraphs 5, 6 and 7 of the application where the accused raised the issue of young children and aged parents as reasons for bail.
Meanwhile, the embattled speaker has raised the alarm over plans by the EFCC to re-arrest him.
In a letter to the Commission by his counsel, Bankole said he heard from competent sources that the EFCC had perfected plans to re-arrest him immediately he was admitted to bail by the court.
Excerpts from the letter reads: "We were further informed that the Commission's operatives will re-arrest our client immediately he is admitted to bail on the ground that the Commission requires him in respect of investigations of other allegations made against him not related to the charges before the court.
"We wish to bring to your notice that the Commission as a public authority should not misuse the statutory power of arrest and detention. Our client has no intention to run away from this country or avoid justice."
Bankole last Wednesday filed the application for bail.
In the application, Bankole said he should be given bail on self-recognition as the immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives.
He also stated that he had never been tried nor convicted for fraud either in Nigeria or any other country.
He said as a holder of a national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFR) he was entitled to bail on self-recognition.
Bankole also said he had aged parents who depended on him and that denying him bail would deprive him of the opportunity to cater for them.
He also said he had aged parents who were emotionally attached to him.
Bankole said the charges were baseless because he had never inflated the any contract.
He had on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to the 16 charges levelled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Last Tuesday, the commission filed a 16-count charge of contract inflation amounting to N894 million against Bankole.
Details of the charges show that Bankole was accused of colluding with some people who were said to be at large to increase the cost of purchasing Samsung television sets, HP computers, Digital Copiers, 2 units of Range Rover Bullet Proof vehicles and 3 units of Mercedes Benz S-600 Cars among others.
The offences were said to have been contrary to section 58(4)(a) of the Public Procurement Act punishable under section 58(5) of the same law.
Count 1 of the charges reads: "That you, Dimeji Bankole and others now at large on or about the 28th of May, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, being Body of Principal officers of the House of Representatives responsible for the approval of contracts in the House of Representatives, with intent to defraud, did conspire amongst yourselves to inflate the cost of 400 units of 40-inch Samsung (LNS.3410 Television sets by approval the purchase of the said item at the rate of N525, 000.00 per unit, instead of the prevailing market price of N295, 000.00 and thereby committed an offense contrary to Section 58 (4) (a) of the public Procurement Act No. 14 of 2007 and punishable under Section 58 (5) of the same Act."
He was also accused of colluding with other people whose names were not disclosed and with intent to defraud, rigged the bid for the purchase of 100 units of Sharp Digital Copier 5316 by refusal to follow all the procedures prescribed for public procurements in Sections 17 to 56 of the Public Procurement Act N0.14 of 2007, leading to a loss of value to the national treasury.
The commission further said Bankole and other principal officers of the House of Representatives responsible for the approval of contracts in the House of Representatives, with intent to defraud, did conspire among themselves to inflate the cost of 800 units of Desktop Computers (HP Compaq dc 5700) by approving the purchase of the said item at the rate of N330,000.00 per unit, instead of the prevailing market price of N160,000.00 per unit.